The Standard Bearer Is The One Who Gets The Bullets

The heading image of this column is the rootin’ tootin’ flutin’ King of Prussia, supposedly striding out ahead of his loyal troops to inspire them. It may have been drawn from fact, or it may just be a German propaganda construct, but it points out the title of our piece admirably. The individual who makes a flag bearer of themselves can attract far more than applause – they can attract lead.

I don’t suppose many of us march into enemy guns these days with flags flying and bayonets charged – though I did just that a couple of decades ago – but we do tend to climb the Facebook ramparts and wave our opinions to attract attention. And in most cases we don’t even have a kingdom to defend by doing it. We appear to be attacking public figures for the sheer joy of it. Fortunately the public figures never notice us and most of the people who do would have no idea how to fire a spud gun, let alone a musket.

The only wounds we suffer are to the ego and the reputation. Grievous hurts, of course, but mostly non-fatal. Friendships crumple up and fall over, and that is perhaps the saddest part of it.

So what to do? I’m sure if you look far enough into Roman and Greek history you’ll find advice to keep yourself from party, as well as from lust or gluttony. If you pay me $200 I’ll tell you what they say about avarice.

I don’t tell people what to think or do – apart from this hectoring column. It is safer not to, and even better if I do not tell them what I think or do either. If it is necessary to throw rocks through their windows after dark it is best not to tell them who is doing the throwing.

Flags do need flying, and causes championed, and virtue signalled – and we can see it every day on our social media feed. But we should glance up at them carefully before we raise the pole. Fred’s got his family and the state on the stick there, and a good many armed Germans behind him – he’ll be fine as long as the French don’t spot him and lay a double canister round his way. Not so our Facebook warriors, who may be flying the flag of many foreign parties – replete with vulgarity and foolish appearance. ” Sharing ” the antics of idiots is allying yourself to them…and sometimes the flag that you think you are hoisting is a disgrace to all.

Note: I could be wrong. Friedrich might have just have taken a snout against his generals and is taking his flag and going home.

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” We’re Out Of Canned Snake “

Well, damn. And I had my heart set on a big plate of dugite in gravy. I’ll have to make do with bread and butter.

I admire the cuisines beloved of many different ethnic groups. Likewise I recognise the artistry inherent in their dances, clothing, and literature…albeit I have no idea what they are saying or doing and the clothing they wear looks as if it was stitched together with brass wire. I figure it is their hides, slides, and insides and not for me to criticise.

Admiration, however, does not mean emulation. In the case of exotic cuisine I am more than happy for it to remain so. If they have shops that cater for their own palates, well and good. I have mine. They include Elmar’s, IGA, and Aldi, and if I cannot suit myself there I can always haunt Coles or Woolies. I wouldn’t think of depriving them of canned insects or vermin in oil. Indeed, come high summer, between myself and the cat, we could probably provide them with all the skittering protein they could handle.

I did try to adapt myself to the influx of Asian grocery shops here in our suburb. Close as we are to an Asian dormitory suburb and a south Asian subdivision, it’s not surprising that there has been a burgeoning in the specialty grocery market. I went to my local one and did my best to understand the items on offer – eventually settling on Yeo’s curry sauce from Singapore as the easiest thing to incorporate in the family menu. It’s never failed, and I always grab a can when I see it.

But when I tried to decipher all the other curry offerings I was stumped – so many canneries, so many flavours, so many different bits of advice on the can. I took a selection of them to the chap at the counter but he said he doesn’t eat that stuff…Hmmm…

I must screw up my courage and go to the Indian grocery next. Surely, if anyone, they will be able to advise me.

PS: Don’t try to con me and make me eat some awful offal to amuse your mates. I won’t do it, no matter what the social circumstance. I won’t be rude – ” Thank you. No. ” is perfectly civil.

The Gumtree Experience

I have participated in the Gumtree* experience several times – bouts of advertisement for unwanted household goods and the subsequent responses. I have come to some conclusions:

a. Paid advertisement is fine if you can have any positive expectation of response. Household goods in a tough market do not provide this – therefore cheap or free advertisement is the wisest thing.

b. On-site advertisements, such as the garage sale posters, are pointless unless you live at the off ramp of the busiest street of the town. Otherwise no-one knows you have anything for sale.

c. Realistic pricing is the key to success. Allow for 10% haggling because there are people who would argue over the price of a new postage stamp with the Postmaster General.

d. You will meet time-wasters, chiselers, and tyre kickers. Hopefully all at once, so that you can set them upon each other. Otherwise just grip your underwear from the inside and usher them out.

e. You will also meet fair customers. Treat them fairly.

f. If you essay to sell something, ask yourself whether it is really worth buying. If not, bin it and regard the dignity that you save as your profit.

g. Regard everything that you do offer as merely trade goods – not mementos, dear possessions, or treasures. If the stuff was any of this, it would still be on your shelves. See it gone with the cheerfulness of a merchant – not the sadness of a collector.

h. Let no-one denigrate your goods. If they’ve come to see them, they are worth seeing.

i. Punctually update or remove old advertisements.

j. Deal only at the front of the house, and with the sound of hearty companionship heard from the back room.

k. No cheques. No promises. No PayPal or offers to transfer money on the mobile phone. Government money in hand. And count it.

l. ” Where did you get this? ” is a fair question…for a magistrate or police officer to ask. Answer them instantly and honestly. Everyone else must be contented with a smile and a blessing.

m. ” Can I bring it back if I don’t like it? ” is also a fair question, and you should give a polite answer. ” No ” is perfectly polite.

n. If something works, make it work before any money changes hands. If something doesn’t work, state that fact clearly in the hearing of witnesses. If it was never meant to work, make that perfectly clear to the buyer.

o. If there’s more than one person in a buying team, address yourself to one only – do all your dealings with that person. Do not let them split your attention.

If there are two or more buying teams, let them look at each other uneasily and offer higher prices. Do not declare the sale finished until you have actual money actually in your actual hand. And the hand has closed tightly.

p. Give gifts occasionally. You can shift a lot of appallingly awkward shit if you make a gift of it. Be kind and ruthless.

*  Free local online selling site.

 

 

” Will You Ever Shut Up? “

When people ask you this assure them that there will come a time, when you do, indeed, shut up. No life goes on forever and even if you leave behind video tapes and recordings of yourself scolding your neighbours and relatives, eventually the recordings will wear out and a blessed silence will descend.

Writers have a better chance of pressing their opinions on others long after they are dead. These may be good things, like P.G. Wodehouse novels or rubbish like Samuel Johnson’s writings. The only real end to a writer’s influence comes when they go out of print and out of circulation – Voltaire is still going and Euclid shows little sign of ceasing any time soon as long as there are parallel lines or right angles.

We might grant some eternal influence to politicians and statesmen but these reputations tend to tarnish and rot more readily than those of the writers. Territories and resources are much more desirable than ideas, and new people will always arrive trying to acquire them. In the process they remove the old rulers, then their remains, and finally their history and their names. The unlucky ones are kept round as curiosities in museums or powdered for Chinese medicines. At least the mummies that may be ground up for this sort of thing have the satisfaction of being able to make some modern Asian fool sicker than when they started out.

I am grateful for the internet as it allows me to monopolise people’s attention for five or ten minutes every morning and no talking back. I suppose one day it will disappear in an EMP but until then I have an extremely small portion of the public eye or ear to remember what I said.

And to ignore it.

 

When You Have To Be Honest…

When you have to be honest about some particular thing, you might just as well surrender yourself to the whole vile experience and be honest about everything. You’ll be cleaning up a damned mess, of course, but the thing won’t be any different than if you just told a little bit of the truth and clammed up about the other things you know.

Not that honesty is required all the time, mind. If you are dealing with magistrates and police officers and coroners and such you’ll have to be completely truthful, of course. Likewise you are going to want to be open and forthright with your physician, dentist, optometrist, etc – otherwise your own body will betray you. But there are other places in society where you can get a rest from being honest:

a. Facebook. No-one really expects to see a 100% honest day on Facebook. There are so many political, religious, and social memes out there just waiting for shares, and most of them are either too good to be true or too true to be good – the former ones outnumber the latter…

b. Instagram. You are encouraged to make things look better than they really are to attract the interest of people who want to attract your interest with their visual lies. Fortunately it makes a nice change from Pokemon and people are less likely to step into traffic while looking at Instagram. Unless it makes them really depressed.

c. The pub. Well, if you can’t tell lies in a place that serves diluted alcohol, what’s the point of going there?

d. Political rallies. Whichever side you are on and whomever you are against, you are never expected to be unbiased and fair at a political rally. You are there to root for your side and howl the rest down. You are often allowed to hold up offensive signs. You are never required to dress well. You are permitted to espouse the foulest creeds and howl the vilest insults. If it had nap time, it would be like kindergarten.

e. Religious meetings. You are required to be honest to God and honest to yourself, but everyone else there can be played like a harmonica. Profess anything that they want you to profess and damn anything that they demand you to damn. Recite creeds, prayers, anthems, and shopping lists if that is the custom of the place. Bob, weave, dance, sing, and perform any gestures that seem to be required.

It’ll all be the same thing. Would I lie to you?

 

 

 

 

A Rat’s Eye View

Someone once said that a hot rod was the mechanical version of a teenager trying to get attention by behaving badly. Possibly, but you need to extend the simile to take in the old men behaving badly as well. No need to discriminate on the basis of age…

The pictures today have been passed through a new filter in my computer – an HDR plug-in that makes all the tones go quite strange. Many subjects are harmed by this approach, but the rat rod is not likely to be one of them. I hope the owner and builder of this Volkswagen rat rod will appreciate the tone that the treatment has given to his car.

Not that it really needed any additional work from me. He has pretty well styled every reachable surface himself. Like many rat rodders, he has taken the ” rat ” motif and added a number of rodents to the car. And true to 50’s and 60’s hot rod culture he has added skulls, skeletons and skeletal ironwork, spiders, and other graveyard decorations to the basic structure.

None of it is simple, and none of it could have come easy. A lot of hard work there.

There is also an unofficial military memorial theme somewhere in this design based upon the owner’s history. At least I assume it is his history, with the signs about National Service in 1969 and Vietnam. You would have to ask people who were also in the forces then what they think of the paint job, as I am in no position to comment.

I cannot remember seeing a rat rod being driven here in the metro area, though the ones that appear at Gillam Drive in summer never seem to have trailers – they must have gotten there under their own steam. It would seem logical that if the owner wishes to attract attention that the road would be the place to do it. Perhaps it would gather the wrong sort of attention – just as displaying it at military memorials might also pose a question – but in any case, as long as there are hot rod meets they can come out. They might not shine, but they can rust publicly.

Bag it And Drag It

We are just in the throes in Western Australia of a politically-correct scheme to remove plastic bags from supermarkets. All hail the dawn of the eco-revolution.

Well, as with any good revolution, you have mensheviks and bolsheviks and cossacks and armoured trains, and this one is no different. The two regiments that have taken the field first off are the Queens Own Hypocrites and the Bullshit Hussars.

a. The two major competing supermarket chains – divisions  of mega corporations – will institute the bans within two weeks of each other. There will be trumpeting and photo opportunities, no doubt.

b. The independent grocers are still handing out the purchases in bags for now.

c. The Big Two – Tweedledum and Tweedledee are offering to sell reusable bags for several dollars or—wait for it—plastic bags as before, but for a price. You still get to apparently ruin the planet, but they make an additional profit on it.

d. As yet there is no charge for the use of the steel cage trolley in the Big Two…but wait for it to occur to their accountants. Another independent grocer does charge a coin fee for use of the trolley but refunds the coin once the trolley is racked back in the store.

e. Confusion will reign supreme tonight as people encounter the one chain’s policy and this will extend to the other chain in two weeks. There will be words, and many of them will be Anglo-Saxon.

f. The independent grocery chain who introduces paper bags or continues plastic ones at no additional charge – and advertises the fact unashamedly will experience a surge of people switching over to their stores. They are smaller spaces than the big two but they can make a motzah in the next few months if they play their cards right.

I shall cope by experimentation. I’ll take some cloth bags with me to the store and place them at the front of the conveyor belt as I lay the groceries out. I shall be curious to see whether the checkout clerk then fills those cloth bags and hands them over to me to put back in the trolley for the journey to the car. If they don’t, I don’t pay till they do.

Note: I do not use self-serve checkout ever.

Or I’ll try the experiment of putting several plastic tubs in the car boot. I’ll just re-trolley the goods as they are checked through the till and then transfer them to the tubs in the car.

Or I’ll shift my business to the smaller supermarket and leave the big two to stew in it.